Mini PCs are a fantastic alternative to traditional desktop computers, especially for activities that don’t require compelling devices. This makes them an exciting choice for those who just use the equipment to surf the Internet, for simple office work and, above all, as a media center.
In this context, it is not surprising that practically all IT device manufacturers have decided to include them in their catalogs. So if you are thinking of buying one, you are in luck, because you can choose from a wide range of products.
Here we had listed out the best mini pcs for you that are present below.
Mini Pcs Buying Guide
When buying a mini PC, as is the case with any other computer device, it is essential to consider several important issues. Not all mini PC models offer the same performance. In this section, we will, therefore, try to clarify the main doubts that may arise during the purchase process.
What Exactly Are Mini Pcs?
Mini PCs are compact devices with much smaller dimensions than traditional desktop computers. In general, they include only the essential components and are characterized by offering excellent connectivity options, but few possibilities for expansion.
On the other hand, although they can offer performance somewhat similar to that of desktop devices, they are usually less powerful, designed for simpler operations. Therefore, in general, they are used as a media center or for office activities and web browsing.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Mini Pcs?
Mini PCs have some advantages which, no doubt, compensate for the limitations associated with their small size. You can discover the advantages and disadvantages of the following box.
- They are cheaper than more powerful devices
- They take up less space than a desktop computer
- They allow you to transform your TV into a complete media center
- They can be transported more quickly than other devices
- They are very energy efficient
- They are usually quieter
- Often, they offer less performance
- Usually, they don’t have a graphics card
- They don’t provide many expansion possibilities
- Some lack active cooling
Who Is Recommended to Buy a Mini Pc?
The reasons for buying a mini PC can be varied. Undoubtedly, they are a fantastic option for those with a limited budget. They are also particularly interesting for shops and offices, thanks to their small size. And they are also an excellent choice for those who want to turn their TV into a media center.
What Are the Most Common Uses of Mini Pcs?
Current minicomputers offer various possibilities of use.
- Multimedia: One of their main applications. They can be connected to any TV, turning it into a great Smart TV, which can act as a media center.
- Office Work: It is, without a doubt, another of their primary applications, since programs such as Word or Excel do not require compelling devices. Plus, they allow you to take your office with you anywhere. All you have to do is connect the mini PC to a keyboard, mouse, and monitor, and you’re ready to go.
- Game Emulator: An exciting possibility if you want to play some console classics from a few years ago. You only need to install an emulator and connect a gamepad to be able to play your favorite PSX, Super Nintendo, or Mega Drive games.
- Server: A habitual use by advanced users, who use mini PCs as Apache, VPN, NAS, or DNS servers.
What Operating Systems Do Mini Pcs Use?
The operating systems installed on the minicomputers are Windows 10, macOS, the different versions of Linux, and also Android or Android TV Box. The latter is perhaps the easiest to use and the most suitable for mini PCs for media centers. For office work, you can opt for any of the other three.
What Is the Difference Between a Mini Pc and A Barebone?
Of course, the difference between a mini PC and a barebone can be quite vague. The barebones are partial manner mounted devices: sometimes have only the houses and the motherboard.
In other cases, they may also include the processor or CPU and the power supply. The user can then choose the different components to be installed.
This system has the advantage of a lower cost and greater customization, both as regards the type of elements mounted on the device and its characteristics.
Mini PCs, on the other hand, are generally already mounted computers, equipped with their fundamental components, including the motherboard, the processor, the RAM, and the hard disk.
Is It Possible to Play Video Games with A Mini Pc?
It will depend on the minicomputer you buy and the video games you want to play. In any case, one of the main applications of mini PCs today is their use as console emulators of previous generations.
Also, contrary to what many believe, there are mini PC models designed to allow you to play with 4K resolutions at 60 FPS (frames per second) and with a rather good performance in many of the current games. However, this is certainly not the main application of this type of device.
Why Is Cooling so Important in Mini Pcs?
The fact that all the components of the mini PCs are so close together means that there is less space for cooling and that, therefore, even the hot spots are closer to each other and retroactive each other. Also, some devices lack active cooling. All this can lead to excessive heating of the mini PC.
This problem is partially offset by the fact that these are devices with fewer components and optimized to require lower energy consumption. In any case, most minicomputers have more fans to ensure maximum cooling and avoid overheating.
Things to Consider Before Buying
How Do You Plan to Use the Mini Pc?
If you are looking for a mini PC to have a media center for the TV, you should focus on a model with a decent graphics card and a good sound card. If, however, you plan to use it as a generic computer, but with a smaller size, we recommend you opt for a model with a good processor and sufficient RAM.
If you use it for office work, you will not need particularly high-level specifications. The same goes for offices and shops that don’t require massive programs. If you are thinking of buying a mini PC to play video games, it is much better to opt for a gaming type laptop, like the ones you can find in our guide.
If you want to use the mini PC as a media center, it is advisable to focus on the Android operating system. If instead, you plan to use it for another type of business, the best choices are Windows or macOS. The choice between the two depends on which ecosystem you prefer, whether from Microsoft or Apple.
If this is usually an important aspect when choosing a device, in the case of mini PCs, it is even more so. As for the manufacturer, there are practically only two possibilities: Intel and AMD.
If you want to know more about the characteristics of the chips of both, you can consult the complete analyzes available on our site. In general, in this type of device, there are processors with one or two cores.
However, in addition to their number, it is necessary to take into account the frequency with which they work and whether or not they have multithreading technology, since, in the first case, they will be able to manage two processes simultaneously for each core.
RAM, together with the processor, is undoubtedly the most critical component of a computer. Today, as a minimum, you have to think of a device with 2 GB of RAM. If, however, you do not want to see yourself particularly limited in this aspect, much better to opt for a model with 4 GB or more. And don’t forget to check if the device offers memory expansion possibilities.
In the case of mini PCs, storage capacity is not as crucial as in desktop computers. However, there are two options. On the one hand, there are traditional hard drives and, on the other, SSD drives. Also, both can be integrated with SD cards.
It is, therefore, essential to check if the device has slots for these cards and what is the maximum capacity it admits. For devices that have it, a 64 GB hard drive may be sufficient, although the ideal would be something more. If you want a faster system boot, then better choose a device with SSD drive.
Although it is a very small minicomputer, connectivity options are still a fundamental aspect. The device must have the best possibilities in this respect.
First of all, you should check how many USB ports it includes and what type they are. Remember that the latest version, and the fastest, is version 3.1 Type-C. Do not think only of quantity, but also position. At least a couple of these ports should be located on the front of the device.
On the other hand, HDMI and DisplayPort connections can be useful to play content with resolutions higher than Full HD. And don’t forget your Internet connections via Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections.
Technology allows us to enjoy increasingly powerful and small electronic devices. And, of course, personal computers are also no strangers to this trend.
Nowadays, it is possible to find mini PCs with excellent performance and with such small dimensions that they allow you to carry them with you in a backpack and, some, even in a pocket.
They can be used in very different ways: as a media center in the home, for office activities, to install console emulators, and also as a server. The first aspect to consider when buying one, therefore, even before the technical specifications, is the use you plan to make of it.